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USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute Newsletter / Spring 2022


Tackling health disparities: Alzheimer’s and sleep issues for African Americans

One of the keys to addressing health disparities is making clinical and scientific research more inclusive. With a new, internal grant by the Strategic Directions for Research Award program, Jeiran Choupan of the Stevens INI has teamed up with Karen D. Lincoln of the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work to address the need for more studies of Alzheimer’s disease in African Americans.

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Stevens INI receives private funding for much-needed bipolar disorder research

The Milken Institute and the Baszucki Brain Research Fund launched a dedicated grant program aimed at advancing therapeutic discovery for bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a chronically underfunded and understudied mental health condition that affects 2.3 million Americans, and nearly 45 million people worldwide. The Fund selected Stevens INI Associate Director Paul M. Thompson and postdoctoral fellow Christopher R. K. Ching’s promising work.

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A meeting of the minds: neuroimaging across the lifespan with the Stevens INI

Just before the sweeping lockdowns due to the pandemic, the Stevens INI hosted the Pacific Rim New Horizons international conference. Uniting renowned experts, rising leaders, and early-stage investigators from around the world under the theme “neuroimaging across the lifespan.” As a result of the conference, the journal Brain Imaging and Behavior has published Special Issue: 2020 Pacific Rim New Horizons in Human Brain Imaging: Neuroimaging across the Lifespan, guest-edited by Neda Jahanshad, PhD.

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Brain differences in young children with binge eating disorder discovered

Stuart Murray teamed up with Ryan Cabeen, Arthur W. Toga, and Kay Jann of the Stevens INI to analyze brain scans and other data from 71 children with diagnosed binge eating disorder and 74 children without binge eating disorder. The study suggests that binge eating disorder is wired in the brain, even from very early age.

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Stevens INI researchers hit FDA clearance milestone for CT software

Danny JJ Wang and his team are addressing the growing concern that radiation involved in CT scans can be unnecessarily harmful to patients. CT scans can certainly save lives by catching abnormalities, but there is a strong desire for methods that can lower the risk of cancer with reduced use of radiation. FDA 510(k) clearance is a critical and necessary step when preparing a device for market in the U.S.

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The discovery of genetic variants that speed up and slow down brain aging

Researchers from the ENIGMA consortium, co-founded and directed by Stevens INI Associate Director Paul M. Thompson, have discovered 15 “hot spots” in the genome that either speed up brain aging or slow it down — a finding that could provide new drug targets to resist developmental delays, Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative brain disorders.

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Eight departments at the Keck School of Medicine of USC rank in the top 10 in NIH funding in their fields, including the Department of Neurology of the Department of Ophthalmology, both of which are significantly bolstered by funding received by the Stevens INI.

At the end of 2021, Clarivate announced its list of Highly Cited Researchers, which includes Stevens INI Director Arthur W. Toga.

A Stevens INI video showcasing a new technology called zoomed 7T perfusion functional MRI (fMRI) was featured on the NIH Director’s Blog. The technology is under development by an NIH-funded team led by Danny JJ Wang, zoomed 7T perfusion fMRI was developed by Xingfeng Shao, and the video was created by Jim Stanis – all members of the Stevens INI.


Warm welcome to our new CIA medical director

The Stevens INI is home to the Center for Image Acquisition (CIA), which provides high-resolution high-field imaging capabilities for both neuroscientific research and clinical applications. Opened in 2016, the CIA is an MRI facility housing a Siemens Magnetom Prisma, a 3 Tesla MRI scanner, and a Siemens Magnetom 7T MRI scanner. We are thrilled to welcome Assistant Professor of Clinical Radiology, Priya Rajagopalan, MBBS, MPH, as the CIA’s new medical director.

Congratulations to new faculty member Xingfeng Shao

We are proud to announce the appointment of Xingfeng Shao, PhD, to assistant professor of research radiology. Shao received his PhD in biomedical engineering from USC under the guidance of Stevens INI’s Danny JJ Wang, PhD, professor of neurology and radiology, and director of imaging technology innovation. He is already making great strides in his work.

New Center brings together a multidisciplinary super group

A multi-disciplinary team of world-renowned researchers at USC have come together to tackle the formidable challenges of neurodegenerative diseases of the eye and brain. Building on decades of knowledge, the success of the world’s first FDA-approved retinal implant to restore sight to the blind, and USC’s existing investments, Drs. Mark Humayun, Gianluca Lazzi, and Stevens INI Director Arthur W. Toga are teaming up to lead the new Center for Neuronal Longevity (CNL).

Impressive gains for your research: discover data sets using GAAIN

Recently, the Global Alzheimer’s Association Interactive Network (GAAIN) team at the Stevens INI was joined virtually by enthusiastic researchers from across the globe for our Data Sharing and Exploration webinar. The upsurge in collaborative Alzheimer’s disease initiatives around the world uses big data to open new avenues for exploring diverse data sets for accelerating AD research. By bringing together data from different modalities, such as genetic, imaging, and cognitive measures, GAAIN allows researchers to discover existing data sets and interesting trends, potentially leading to new treatments and cures.

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Interested in joining the Stevens INI? Check out our new careers tab! We are always seeking ambitious, curious, and enthusiastically collaborative researchers with a commitment to excellence and scientific integrity.

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